"ACTING LIKE THEY'RE DOING ME A FAVOR BY INTERVIEWING ME"
BY JEANINE "J.T." O'DONNELL AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: I've been on interviews where the HR manager has been late up to 20 minutes. I've had HR managers have the wrong resume when interviewing me, and have had HR managers dressed worse than I was. I get very upset dealing with HR managers who sit behind their desks acting like they are doing me a favor by interviewing me and then say, "You're not the fit we're looking for." How do I get a second interview? -- Bruce
J.T.: As much as we try to hide our emotions in an interview, the reality is that frustration shows.
DALE: And the tough-love truth, Bruce, is that those HR folks are probably right about you. A job is more than doing the job; it's cheerfully enduring the petty annoyances that come along with any organization.
J.T.: First, a bit of empathy for HR managers. They are inundated with resumes, pushed to find the "perfect" candidate, and dealing with job descriptions being changed daily by management. It's just not easy. Your ability to have compassion for their situation will serve you well in an interview.
DALE: OK, but I want Bruce to see the Big Picture, to take on the critical life skill of being able to accept whatever is thrown at him with grace and good humor. There's a book that will help instantly; it's "Feel Happy Now" by Michael Neill, which might sound like pablum, but is a profound and practical guide to acceptance.
J.T.: It's true that companies hire attitude. Dressing the part and having the necessary skills just aren't enough. If you want to stand out, be someone who is approachable, understanding and adaptable. The right candidate has the proper balance of confidence and humility. That's what gets most people a second interview, and ultimately lands them the job.
DALE: When hiring managers ask who's the best "fit," what they are asking is, "Of those qualified candidates, with whom do I want to work alongside every workday?" Your goal in an interview isn't to give the perfect answers; it's to be someone they want to talk to again. That's who gets the callback interview, and that's the mind-set to take in with you, the person who wants to have a conversation that leaves them wanting another conversation.
Dear J.T. and Dale: A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a job where I worked on my computer at home. A friend was already doing the same work and referred me to the company. It was only a temporary job, but I got hooked and wonder how I can find another work-from-home job. I have done searches on the Internet but only find jobs that want me to pay a fee first before I can start working for them, which doesn't make sense. I am not interested in starting my own business. Any ideas? -- Paul
DALE: There are a lot more people who'd like to work at home than there are at-home jobs, which is why I'm not surprised to learn that you "stumbled onto" your last job via a friend. Turns out that stumbling is important to most careers, and hence, it's an art worth learning.
J.T.: That is really the art of doing a good job at detective work. Start with your most recent employer. See if you can contact someone there and learn how the project came about, which might enable you to find similar projects. Further, call HR departments directly. And don't forget to ask those you speak to if they know of any firms that are looking for someone with your skills to work from home. The laws of networking state that your next job gets closer each time you ask, "Do you know anyone who is hiring candidates with skills like mine?"
DALE: At which point you might need to be open to self-employment. Once a company realizes that it doesn't have to see you to see your work, it's likely to go all the way and decide that it doesn't need to see your benefits and employee paperwork, thus giving a workplace meaning to the old saying that freedom isn't free.
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Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
(c) 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.